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  • On 9th March 2015

Many experienced custom motorcycle builders can probably start with an idea of the finished motorcycle already in mind and then build the bike in a single assembly step by just putting all the finished components together.  Like Mozart, who, legend has it, could hear an entire symphony in his head and then just simply write down the notes without making a single correction.  I couldn’t.  During the building of BLACKSQUARE, the bike was actually disassembled and reassembled not once or twice, but… four times.

ONE: The original bike was partially disassembled in order to remove the engine.  The engine was then completely rebuilt from the ground up and re-installed back in the frame.  Who could resists the temptation to fire up a freshly rebuilt engine?

TWO: The bike was then completely disassembled again (leaving just the engine in the frame).  All new, customized or custom components were then procured (some were designed and manufactured specifically for this project) and added one at a time.  Some components, such as the mufflers, for example, could not be installed since this required welding new support brackets to the frame (I do not have welding equipment in my workshop).  This phase, lasting over a year, was by far the longest to complete.

THREE: The bike was then completely disassembled again down to the bare frame.  The frame was modified (the tail section was trimmed, position of the kickstand was changed, seat hinges and lock were removed, new support brackets were welded, etc.).  The bike was completely reassembled again to ensure everything looked as planned and fitted perfectly; including the previously untried fitment and alignment of the four mufflers.

FOUR:  Yet another complete disassembly was performed.  The frame and swing arm were then powder coated, the tank and side covers painted, and the bike was finally assembled for the fourth and last time.

I learned many lessons during this project and acquired many new skills, but the one thing I really learned well (because I practiced it so many times) is how to take an engine in and out of the frame.

Engine installation

The picture above shows all precautions that were taken prior to installing the engine in the finished frame.  To prevent any possible damage to the frame or scratches to the pristine powder coat, the frame was “bandaged”. To make inserting the engine in the frame easier, I used all-thread rods mounted as shown, slipped appropriately sized pipes over them and secured everything with nuts.  I also inserted short pieces of plastic tubing over the threaded studs for the exhaust pipe clamps (those will touch the frame during engine installation and the sharp threads will scratch it!).  It was then fairly easy for two people to lift the engine and carefully drop it in position.  Warning: the engine weighs 159 lbs.  The “bandages” were then removed and the engine was secured in place using new stainless steel bolts and nuts (except the two long original ones that run the length of the engine at the back).


The picture above comes close to showing the only original components that were retained.  The carburetors and side covers were not installed at this point.  The shocks are not original HONDA.  Everything else on the finished bike was either custom-fitted or custom made. In the interest of “full disclosure”, and the embarrassment that may come with it, note the white gloves as well as the reminder “Install steering stem races first” written on the plywood base – one of many “notes to self” I would write during the course of this project.